The numbers are in. Pastor Ted can see the report on the top of his desk. His stomach clinches as he walks across the room, picking up the report.
There are times when the numbers haunt us. It might be the budget, or attendance numbers. Every week there is a part of us that lives and dies by the numbers.
Then there are the times when we just give up. We might be so underwater that we can’t see light, or our numbers are so depressing that we let go. We decide to acknowledge that God is in control and just trust.
Why is it that we have to be at the end of our rope before we really learn to trust? In those times when things are going sort of well, we pick back up the stress and forget to leave the numbers on God’s lap.
There is a scripture that baffled me for years: “Then David prayed, I have sinned badly in what I have just done, substituting statistics for trust; forgive my sin—I’ve been really stupid.” 1 Chronicles 21:8. This is the Message version, and it helps a lot. You see, David took a census of Israel’s fighting men. He focused on the numbers.
Why is this a problem? Emotions, one of which is trust, are centered on one side of our brain, and statistics are centered on the other. When we look to statistics first, we have trouble getting to trust.
For the month of February, I am going to be looking at relationship health. How is your relationship with God? Do you find your view of self, others and the Church are rocked by temporal numbers? When the budget falls short, are you tempted to work harder and smarter, pushing to bring the numbers out of the red?
II Chronicles 20 tells us of another numbers situation. Jehoshaphat was back into a corner with no where to turn. We find in verse 3 that "alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord".
What if you didn’t wait until the numbers force you to your knees? What if you took the report to God this week, and before you even read it, ask Him to show you what He is doing. Numbers can be an indication that God is at work. Like Jehoshaphat, you might discover that an amazing victory is right around the corner.
Kim Martinez is an ordained Assemblies of God pastor with a Masters of Theology from Fuller Seminary. She is a ministry and life development coach, and can be found online at www.deepimprints.com. She writes a weekly column for ministrytodaymag.com.